MATCH REPORT: Round 22 vs Hibiscus Coast AFC

14 Sep

NRFL Men's First Team Round 22 Match Report: East Coast Bays Vs Hibiscus Coast FC, Bay City Park # 2, Saturday 9th September 2023.

Thomson Injury Time Winner Tops Off Super Successful season for Bays

East Coast Bays were still in contention of winning the title if Tauranga lost to Mt Albert Ponsonby at home. So, it was all to play for in the final regular game of the season. It was Blue Wave Day so there was a huge turn out to see the match on the # 2 pitch. Two changes to the starting line-up saw Mikey G & Orlando come in for Leo & Thomson. On the bench to make their first team league debuts were Mr Coyle and Nathan Pepper.

Bays were quickly on attack with Mikey G feeding Liam down the right side. He cut inside and played a cut back that Nick shot wide. Nick then found his brother on the right hand side of the box. Mikey G shot across the face of the goal and past the far post. Logan lost the ball in possession and James cleared the danger for a corner. Agiovlassitis took the corner and the combination of James & Louie cleared the danger. Russell then shot wide of the target. EMan played a great ball down the middle of the Bays defence for Newman to chase down and his cross into the middle failed to find any of his team mates.

Orlando won the ball in midfield and passed to Nick. His shot was blocked for a corner. Hibiscus made a break down the left by Usher and his cross in was cut out by a great covering tackle by Mikey K. Hibiscus were hot on attack as Usher had a shot roll harmlessly along the ground and a follow up long range shot went wide. Louie played a superb long ball down the left that found Nathan and his ball found Liam who’s left foot shot went well over. Nick then found Nathan and as Liam was about to pull the trigger again a defender slid in to block the shot for a corner. Nathan’s corner found Logan at the back post and his header was cleared off the line. Nathan & Liam were linking up well down the left. Liam skipped over a tackle but his cross shot went over again. Callum played a short corner to Orlando who played it back to him and the cross into the centre was cleared away.

Mikey G played in Liam again and his cross into the centre only just evaded Orlando. Another cross from Nathan into the centre was cleared away. Hibiscus had a quick counter attack but it died when Debenham’s cross failed to find any of his own players. Bays were relentless on attack and further shots by Moses & Orlando were blocked. Another Louie long ball led to a switch from right side to left. Nathan played in Liam and his left foot volley found the side netting. Just as the game was nearing half time Bays made the breakthrough when a corner by Nathan made its way back to him and his second cross was headed home from close range at the back post by Logan for his first league goal of the season. The score now was East Coast Bays 1 Hibiscus Coast 0. Bays almost doubled their lead when Liam took off down the right and his cross into the middle saw a shot by Orlando blocked and the follow up saw Callum roll a shot along the ground to be blocked again.

The half time whistle went and Bays led by the single goal at the interval. It had been a good battle between two evenly matched sides but Bays were just a little bit more clinical in front of goal.  Early in the second half Orlando got a faint touch on a cross that the keeper saved and Moses follow up went well over the goal. Liam then robbed a Hibiscus defender and set up Nick. He in turn set up Moses but he was crowded out before getting the shot away. Bays then had a free kick just outside the Hibiscus box for a foul on Orlando. Louie came rushing down field from his goal and pretended he was Dylan in taking the free kick. Unfortunately, the shot went into the wall and was cleared as Louie rushed back to the safety of his own goal. No Alison Becker there!!!!!

Hibiscus then had their best chance when Usher unleashed a drive that Louie saved brilliantly with a full stretch dive to push the shot away. Bracken then had a shot saved for another corner. Hibiscus made their first change in 58th minute with Odom replacing Russell. Liam then chipped the ball over the defence and the keeper did well to get to the ball just before Mikey G.  A Callum free kick saw Liam’s left foot shot saved and Nathan’s follow up shot from the rebound was also saved by the busy Hibiscus keeper. Callum’s next corner found James at the back post but his shot went well over. Bays then made two changes with Thomson & Leo coming on for Nathan & Orlando. Moses then set up Thomson and his right foot shot was saved low down for a corner. Down the other end Hibiscus scored against the run of play. A free kick on the right by Agiovlassitis found Martin free in the middle and he planted a header past Louie to make the score EC Bays 1 Hibiscus Coast 1.

Straight after the Hibiscus goal they made two more changes with Jones & Stevenson coming on for Brown & Debenham. A Hibiscus cross to the back post found Newman who had his shot saved low down by Louie. Logan made a charge forward before finding Liam on the right. He played the cross in but it evaded the Bays players in the middle. A good team move & interplay saw Leo have a shot that just sailed past the post. Hibiscus made two mare changes in the 79th minute when Urlich-Beech & Poole came on for Bracken & Martin. Poole was only on the field a couple of minutes before he received a yellow card for a foul on Moses.

Bays then made two changes in the 83rd minute with Mr Coyle and Nathan Pepper coming on to make their first team league debuts in place of Mikey G & Nick. From the free kick the cross was just out of reach of Logan. Liam than played in Nathan but as his left foot shot was saved the flag had gone up for offside. The game seesawed back & forward in the final ten minutes as both sides sort out the winning goal. Leo was then shown a yellow card for a tackle from behind. Thomson won the ball down the left and closed in on goal. He slipped the ball across to Nathan and his close range shot was saved again by the impressive Hibiscus keeper.

Just as it looked like the game was going to end in a stalemate Bays scored the winning goal in the 93rd minute. The move started down the right hand side with Liam. The ball then made it’s way over to the left flank to Leo. He crossed into the centre, Thomson did a step over past the defender and then he placed his right footed shot into the far corner to the cheers of his team mates and the big crowd. Shortly afterwards the final whistle went and Bays had won a hard fought battle 2 – 1 against a very good, battling Hibiscus Coast side. Unfortunately, Tauranga had pummelled Mt Albert Ponsonby so Bays finished second in the league and more importantly gained promotion to the Northern League Top division. A good finish to a highly successful season with 5 wins in a row to finish the season. The Hibiscus goalkeeper was their man of the match and Moses was Bays player of the day.

This is the last match report for the 2023 season so I hope you have enjoyed reading the reports. Thanks for the positive feedback and I look forward to doing more of the same next season. Congratulations to Joe & the coaching staff and to Louie & the players for a very enjoyable & highly successful season. Enjoy the off season and let’s do it all again next March.        

Final Score: East Coast Bays 2 vs Hibiscus Coast 1

East Coast Bays: L Caunter, M Gaze (S Coyle 83), J Edgeler, N Maisey (T Kim 63), C Simmonds, M Akimana, O Thorpe (T Nkoy 63), N Gaze (N Pepper 83), M Kolston, L Andersen, L Archer 

Hibiscus Coast: J Precious, T Bracken, C Martin, E Usher, Z Newman, J Brown, G Debenham, M Russell, T Agiovlassitis, M Browne, E Darkwa

Subs: L Odom 58, B Jones 69, J Stevenson 69, A Urlich-Beech 79, B Poole 79

Goals: EC Bays: L Archer 43, T Nkoy 93

Goal: Hibiscus Coast: C Martin 68

Unofficial Attendance: 208,753 (a club record)

Photos credit: Simon Harmer

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